My journey to a better way of coaching young people began with a unique high school playing experience. It was my privilege to play in three consecutive state championship games, winning the last two. My graduating class set school records for wins three years in a row. I played with countless college signees and an eventual long-time Major League pitcher.
When I began coaching at that level a few years later, I honestly believed my experience as a player was normal and could be expected every year. You can imagine my disappointment when we didn’t win or even compete for a state title. I was crushed. I wondered what I did wrong. If only I could play again, I would make it happen.
I hate losing. I hate it more than I love winning. So, when I lost as a coach, I hated it, myself, my players, everything.
Then, I had children of my own. That’s when my journey to coaching on purpose really began. My now nine-year-old son didn’t need a coach whose only view of success was measured by the scoreboard. I had to change.
This process of radical change hasn’t been easy and I haven’t liked much of it. Who enjoys having their sinfulness exposed? I’m still growing and learning, and still making lots of mistakes along the way. But, by God’s enabling power, I am moving forward and becoming a better coach for my son and his teammates.
If you want to coach on purpose and not merely by default, start with this step:
Evaluate what are currently your definitions of success and failure.
1. To me, success for the players I’m coaching means…
2. I will consider myself a success as a coach if…
3. I’ll know I’ve failed if…
4. My players recognize failure as…
Until you define the terms, you can’t move forward. You’ll be stuck in an old way of thinking that defines success and failure only in terms of what is quantifiable, like a stat line and a score board.
We can do better than that for the kids we coach, but not until we get really honest with ourselves and with God. And, here’s a hint, try as you may, your sinful nature cannot be overcome in coaching by simply trying to be more positive. Jesus said it best in John 3: it requires new birth, founded on living faith in Him.
I’m praying for you this week, coach. I’m praying you coach on purpose.